The New York Islanders celebrated the opening of their new pro shop in Cantiague Park on Saturday with the help of one of its stars. Forward Michael Grabner was on hand, running a youth hockey clinic, signing autographs and posing for pictures with everyone in attendance.
“It was a lot of fun for me,” Grabner said. “I was on the ice, playing with some of the local kids here. They were really good actually. They were listening pretty well. They were doing the drills right the first time, so it was pretty fun.”
The youth players enjoyed the time on and off the ice with the Islanders star. They performed drills to improve skating, balance, passing and speed, before participating in a scrimmage that saw a tennis ball replace the hockey puck. The youth players enjoyed the unique opportunity to meet and play with an NHL player, especially Devin Depol.
“The Islanders are my favorite hockey team and Michael Grabner is one of my favorite Islanders,” Depol said. “We played tennis ball hockey and we were working on our skating. It was great.”
The focal point of the day, the pro shop opening, was a great success according to Pro Shop Manager Tim Murray. Murray's excitement unfurled as the Long Island native discussed the importance of the Cantiague Park rink to Islanders history.
“The Islanders have a unique connection to Cantiague Park,” Murray said. “From 1979 to 1992, this was the official practice facility of the New York Islanders. Now, the rink has hockey games, youth hockey practices, public skates that are open to all Nassau County residents, a figure skating program and a learn to skate program where beginners who have never skated before can sign up to take lessons.”
The new store functions as a full service pro shop, carrying equipment for everyone from youth hockey players to professionals, in addition to figure skating clothing and Islanders jerseys and apparel.
Grabner attended similar clinics as a kid growing up in Austria, but he says those events were not as common as the ones the Islanders regularly put on for their fans.
“We had more local guys – guys who played in my hometown that we used to go on the ice with,” Grabner said. “But it didn’t happen as often as the Islanders do it. I think the club does a good job of getting us out there with local kids and other events around the community. It’s great to get out there and meet some people.”
CLICK HERE for more information about the Islanders Pro Shop at Cantiague Park.